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White Sox notes from The Bill James Handbook 2014

The offense and defense were pretty much as bad as you thought they were

One of the few good gloves on the Sox.
One of the few good gloves on the Sox.
David Banks

One of the few November baseball traditions that actually guarantees some measure of satisfaction? Flipping through The Bill James Handbook.

Granted, it's not always fun fun. For instance, the dismal performances by White Sox hitters and defenders mean you're not going to find many appearances on any leaderboards, but at least it offers some quantification and closure when trying to figure out how bad it was.

Steve already took at a look at the managers' section, so here's are a few items from elsewhere in the Handbook's 570 pages.


*The White Sox finished with the fourth-worst defense in terms of runs saved, at -58. The Tigers were one spot below at -63, so, so much for that advantage. Last year's Handbook had them at No. 14, at eight runs above average. A 66-run drop seems staggering, and yet that's actually what it felt like watching it happen.

*They were slightly above-average at catcher and shortstop, and that's it for the pluses.

The Sox did not have a top-10 defender at any position except pitcher, where Hector Santiago was tied for fourth at six runs above average, according to DRS. They did have the second-worst at first (Adam Dunn at 12 runs below average), and the worst in center field (Alejandro De Aza, -18).


*The Sox gained 15 extra bases on the whole -- they took six bases fewer than expected running the bases, but came out 21 bases ahead in steals, thanks to Alexei Ramirez (+20 overall) and Alex Rios (+38).

*Dunn has always been a good baserunner for his size, and he continued that this season -- 11 bases above average, thanks to zero baserunning outs.


*Nate Jones is called one of the leaders "in terms of having a good fastball and not using it." His fastball averaged 97.7 mph, but he only threw it 53 percent of the time. He cracked triple-digits with 35 fastballs.

*The pitcher most similar in repertoire to Clayton Kershaw? David Purcey. And Hector Santiago is the most similar to Felix Hernandez, if you ignore the lefty-righty difference (screwballs only account for 4 percent of his pitches).

*Chris Sale allowed the lowest batting average to lefties of any AL starter (.135).

*Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton finished tied for first with the highest holds-adjusted save percentage (95.0 percent).


*Ramirez led the league on balls put in play -- one of the few White Sox hitters to register on any leaderboard that wasn't outright negative, although empty outs are implied.

*U.S. Cellular Field played neutral in terms of runs scored ... likely because the White Sox offense dragged it down. It's still the third-most offense-friendly park in the AL over the last three years, though.

*Dunn and De Aza are the only hitters to qualify as "patient" in the White Sox lineup.

*A.J. Pierzynski is still incredibly easy to project.

Actual 134 503 48 137 24 1 17 70 11 76 1 .272 .425
Projected 137 509 56 137 25 1 17 61 24 69 0 .269 .422

He's pegged for a .266/.303/.407 line in 2014, if you're curious.